Thu. Aug 21, 2014 | RotoWire
News: Olsen (calf) is expected to play in Friday's preseason game versus the Patriots, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Olsen sat out last Sunday's exhibition outing with a slight calf ailment, but has since returned to practice and will play Friday. With the Panthers' starters expected to feature for the entire first half, Olsen should get plenty of work to prepare for Week 1.
News: Newton (ankle) plans to play the entire first half of Friday's preseason game versus the Patriots, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Newton played five series in his preseason debut against Kansas City on Monday, when he went 4-of-9 for 65 yards passing in his first action since March ankle surgery. While he led the Panthers on two touchdown drives, Newton showed clear signs of needing extra work with his new receivers to build better chemistry. According to coach Ron Rivera, such an opportunity will come Friday, as Carolina's first-team offense is expected to play the entire first half in New England.
Tre Boston - #33 - Safety - 6'1" - 205lbs
News: Boston (hernia) returned to Wednesday's practice as a limited participant.
Impact: Boston has been sidelined since aggravating a hernia injury on July 29, but fortunately was able to return in a limited capacity Wednesday. Considering the rookie fourth-rounder's time off, he'll likely be limited for the near future, before gearing his activity level up once he proves healthy enough to do so. With that in mind, it's unclear if Boston will be available for either of the Panthers' remaining preseason games.
News: Johnson (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.
Impact: Johnson also sat out Tuesday session, as he continues to nurse a slight hamstring ailment. While the veteran defensive end missed the better portion of last week as well, he did return in time to play Sunday's second preseason game. As such, it appears Johnson is merely biding time for his hamstring while practices remain of relatively little value for the veteran with 44 sacks over the past four seasons.
Tue. Aug 19, 2014 | RotoWire
News: Olsen (calf) took part in Tuesday's practice, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.
Impact: Olsen missed a preseason game and a couple days of practice with the calf injury, but his return indicates his setback was only minor. Barring any setbacks, he should be good to go for Week 1.
A.J. Klein - #56 - Linebacker - 6'1" - 245lbs
News: Klein started at strongside linebacker and posted three tackles (two solo) while also intercepting a pass in Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
Impact: Klein is currently entrenched in a position battle with Chase Blackburn (back) to start at strongside linebacker for the Panthers this season. With Blackburn sidelined Sunday, Klein received significant playing time and forced a turnover by intercepting a pass and nearly returning it for a touchdown. The second-year player may have pulled ahead in the race to start, but the Panthers' two remaining preseason games will provide more room for evaluation.
Fozzy Whittaker - #43 - Running back - 5'10" - 202lbs
News: Whittaker led the Panthers with 13 rushes for 71 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's preseason game versus the Chiefs.
Impact: Whittaker also caught one pass for 22 yards. The reserve running back played very well Sunday, hitting the holes hard in the running game, while also showing the ability to elude would-be tacklers in the open field. In fact, on the heels of Sunday's stellar showing, Whittaker has now unseated Kenjon Barner on the Panthers' projected 53-man roster. With that in mind, Carolina's two remaining preseason games will be crucial for both Barner and Whittaker.
Brandon Williams - #86 - Tight End - 6'4" - 250lbs
News: Williams has four receptions on a team-high nine targets for 81 yards and one touchdown through the Panthers' first two preseason games.
Impact: Williams, a 6-4, 250 former basketball player, has impressed the Panthers' coaching staff going into his second season. The tight end hauled in a 31-yard touchdown in Carolina's opening preseason contest and added another 31-yard reception in Sunday's second exhibition outing. With unique athleticism and raw talent, Williams is considered a project that the Panthers are taking their time grooming. Nonetheless, his encouraging development should earn Williams playing time in two tight end sets with Greg Olsen, Carolina's unquestioned No. 1 tight end and quarterback Cam Newton's favorite target.
Chase Blackburn - #93 - Linebacker - 6'3" - 240lbs
News: Blackburn (back) didn't play in Sunday's preseason game versus Kansas City.
Impact: Blackburn tweaked his back during practice last week, but fortunately an MRI was returned negative. Nonetheless, he sat out Sunday's second exhibition outing, allowing A.J. Klein to start at strongside linebacker. Furthermore, Klein intercepted a pass Sunday, which, coupled with Blackburn's injury, could thrust the second-year player in the lead to win a starting job at linebacker this season.
Roman Harper - #41 - Safety - 6'1" - 205lbs
News: Harper (toe) did not play in the Panthers' second preseason game Sunday.
Impact: Harper's turf toe injury has kept him out of commission for both of the Panthers' preseason games thus far. Given his rest period, he could return to practice some time this week, but Carolina is expected to be cautious with their newly signed 31-year-old safety.
Charles Godfrey - #30 - Cornerback - 5'11" - 210lbs
News: Godfrey played in Sunday's second preseason game and made three tackles (two solo) versus Kansas City.
Impact: Godfrey sat out Carolina's opener with a sore Achilles but returned to action Sunday in his new nickel cornerback role. The converted safety played cornerback in college but showed clear signs of rust in his first NFL game at the position. As such, Godfrey could use the Panthers' final two exhibition outings to gain valuable experience in his new role before the regular season kicks off.
Kony Ealy - #94 - Defensive End - 6'4" - 275lbs
News: Ealy (foot) played in Sunday's second preseason game versus the Chiefs, Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Ealy began the week in a protective boot to treat a mid-foot sprain, which he overcame in time to practice toward the end of the week and play Sunday. In fact, he took the field for Carolina's second defensive series and looked promising in pass-rush situations, although he did draw a late-hit personal foul penalty. While he remains behind both Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy at defensive end, Ealy could benefit from added playing time with Frank Alexander being suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
Tre Boston - #33 - Safety - 6'1" - 205lbs
News: Boston (hernia) didn't play in Sunday's preseason game versus the Chiefs, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.
Impact: Boston started training camp on the Panthers' PUP list after undergoing hernia surgery in June. While he was activated ahead of practice on July 29, he unfortunately aggravated the injury during his first training session and has been out ever since. As of now, it's unclear how much longer the rookie fourth rounder will be sidelined, but he's losing ground in the Panthers' safety rotation for the upcoming campaign.
News: Johnson (hamstring) started Sunday's preseason game versus the Chiefs and recorded two solo tackles.
Impact: Johnson missed Carolina's opening preseason game after tweaking his hamstring a couple weeks ago but returned to practice toward the end of last week, enabling him to play Sunday. The defensive end started as usual and played without limitation, indicating his hamstring condition has improved.
Kelvin Benjamin - #13 - Wide Receiver - 6'5" - 240lbs
News: Benjamin had two catches on four targets for 41 yards during Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
Impact: Benjamin finally got into a game with Cam Newton under center, and he was targeted twice (one catch for 24 yards) before playing the rest of the first half with Derek Anderson. Benjamin's role is very important for the Panthers this year, as they look to replace the production lost when they let Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell go, so each rep that Benjamin gets with Newton is a plus before the regular season.
News: Stewart (hamstring) had four carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
Impact: DeAngelo Williams started the game but did little before Stewart came in and immediately broke off a 17-yard run. Stewart's two touchdowns came from within the five-yard line, as he continues to be mentioned as a possible goal-line back. With the team looking to ease the wear-and-tear on quarterback Cam Newton throughout the season, the addition of goal-line carries would certainly be a boost to Stewart's value.
News: Williams had three carries for nine rushing yards and one catch on one target for five receiving yards in Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
Impact: Williams started the game but didn't do much in his limited time. However, he was then vastly-outplayed by Jonathan Stewart, who ran four times for 26 yards and two touchdowns, which came on runs of two and three yards. Fozzy Whittaker also had a solid performance, rushing 13 times for 71 yards and a touchdown, although Stewart remains Williams' main competition for carries. There's now talk that Stewart could get a few goal-line looks, which essentially make Williams the third option in close, following Stewart and quarterback Cam Newton.
News: Newton (ankle) made his preseason debut Sunday against the Chiefs, completing 4-of-9 passes for 65 yards while playing nearly the entire first half.
Impact: Newton was understandably rusty at the beginning, throwing incompletions on 5-of-6 passes to start, but he settled down and eventually led the Panthers on two scoring drives. He didn't register a rushing attempt during the game, although his surgically-repaired ankle didn't seem to be a factor.
News: Olsen (calf) did not play in Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs.
Impact: The Panthers have given no indication that Olsen's injury will prevent him from playing Week 1, so it seems likely that they were just taking the cautious route by holding him out of Sunday's exhibition game.
Kealoha Pilares - #19 - Wide Receiver - 5'10" - 200lbs
News: Pilares will not play in Sunday's preseason game due to an ankle injury, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: The extent of Pilares' setback is uncertain, but he will not be able to take the field Sunday night, which will hurt his chances of securing a reserve spot on the Panthers' Week 1 roster.
News: Gano (back) is feeling "really good" and will play in Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs, Panthers.com reports.
Impact: Gano sat out Carolina's opening preseason game with a sore back, but will return to action for Sunday's second exhibition tilt. The only kicker on the Panthers' roster, Gano enjoyed a fine season last year, when he converted 24-of-27 field goal attempts, including all six tries from 50 yards or more.
Sat. Aug 16, 2014 | STATS
News: Newton will see his first game action since undergoing ankle surgery in March when the Panthers host the Kansas City Chiefs.
Impact: Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he expects Newton to play at least a quarter on Sunday night, but he could see additional action depending on how well the offensive line protects him. It may also depend on whether Newton can control his competitive urges to take off and run from the pocket.
News: Johnson (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday, and afterward, he expressed his expectation of active status Sunday versus the Chiefs, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.
Impact: A tweaked hamstring held Johnson out of the Panthers' initial preseason game, but the injury has waned enough for the defensive lineman to boast confidence that a return is imminent. If he returns, he'll assume his typical spot at left defensive end, where he's totaled 44 sacks over the last four seasons (61 games).
News: Coach Ron Rivera indicated that Newton (ankle) is expected to play at least the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Chiefs, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Newton, who is bouncing back from March surgery to tighten the ligaments in his ankle, was held out of last week's preseason opener, but he'll see action Sunday, with the report suggesting that the Panthers' play-calling when Newton is in the game figures to preclude any zone reads.
News: Olsen (calf) did not practice Thursday.
Impact: The report suggests that Olsen -- who was kicked in the calf in a recent practice -- was held out as a precaution Thursday, so it remains plausible that the tight end could still suit up for Sunday's preseason contest against the Chiefs.
Jason Avant - #81 - Wide Receiver - 6'0" - 210lbs
Tue. Aug 12, 2014 | RotoWire
News: Avant has emerged as the Panthers' No. 3 wide receiver during training camp, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Avant joined Carolina during the offseason and was projected to be among the team's top four wideouts following the departure of numerous pass-catchers from last year. While fellow addition Tiquan Underwood has slid down the pecking order, Avant has solidified himself as the Panthers' No. 3 option behind veteran Jerricho Cotchery and standout rookie Kelvin Benjamin.
Mon. Aug 11, 2014 | RotoWire
News: Williams will play in Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs, ESPN reports.
Impact: Williams was held out of the Panthers' preseason opener Friday simply for rest purposes. However, with more than a week to prepare between games, he's expected to receive significant playing time in Sunday's second exhibition outing. After that, the Panthers have just five days until their third preseason game, so Sunday versus Kansas City figures to be Williams' longest appearance before regular season action.
News: Stewart (hamstring) returned to practice Sunday, the Panthers' official Twitter account reports.
Impact: Stewart was sidelined for the past couple weeks due to a pulled hamstring. While he probably won't be a full participant in his first few practices, it's still encouraging to see the oft-injured Stewart back on the field. Should he remain healthy, Stewart will play in the Panthers' next preseason game. At that time, Stewart figures to work in tandem with DeAngelo Williams at running back, as he should throughout the regular season.
Edmund Kugbila - #71 - Guard - 6'4" - 325lbs
Sun. Aug 10, 2014 | STATS
News: Kugbila is done for the season.
Impact: He had no fantasy value.
News: Newton (ankle) will play in next Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Newton sat out Carolina's opening exhibition contest Friday to further preserve the health of his surgically repaired ankle. However, with the regular season inching closer, the Panthers' signal-caller will start Sunday's second preseason outing. In addition to being cleared for game action, Newton also executed zone-read runs for the first time during training camp on Sunday, when rainy conditions didn't restrict his mobility. Although it's yet to be confirmed, Newton appears to be fairly close to 100 percent healthy and will use Sunday's game to advance the rapport he's building with Carolina's revamped receiving corps.
Kony Ealy - #94 - Defensive End - 6'4" - 275lbs
News: Ealy is currently wearing a protective boot to help heal a mid-foot sprain, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Ealy expects to be back practicing in a couple of days, as the Panthers hope his foot sprain doesn't worsen into a Lisfranc injury. The rookie made a decent preseason debut Friday, making three tackles, including one for loss, against the Bills. While Ealy will be held out for the early portion of this week, Carolina expects more news regarding his status in the coming days.
News: Stewart (hamstring) is slated to work out before Friday's preseason game against the Bills and will be evaluated again Sunday, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: The report adds that Stewart, who continues to miss time with a hamstring injury, looked good while running straight ahead on a side field Thursday, which suggests that he is making strides toward a return to practice. There is, however, not a concrete timetable for that eventuality being presented by the team at this stage.
News: Williams sat out Friday's preseason opener against the Bills due to a coach's decision, ESPN's David Newton reports
Impact: With Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) also not playing, Kenjon Barner got the start and failed to impress. Williams and Stewart are still expected to work in tandem this season, with Mike Tolbert eating into the fantasy value of both. Williams should once again serve as the starter, but Stewart is expected back for the regular season, while Tolbert and Cam Newton are the primary rushing threats at the goal line.
Jerricho Cotchery - #82 - Wide Receiver - 6'1" - 205lbs
News: Cotchery caught one pass for eight yards in Friday's preseason opener against the Bills.
Impact: Kelvin Benjamin provided the first-team offense's only touchdown and primary highlight, which may be a sign of things to come. But, Cam Newton (ankle) needs someone to throw to besides Benjamin and Greg Olsen, and Cotchery (with the Steelers) was much better than Jason Avant (with the Eagles) last season. Benjamin and Cotchery are the clear favorites to start, which is particularly important on a team that uses three-wide formations less frequently than do most other squads.
Kelvin Benjamin - #13 - Wide Receiver - 6'5" - 240lbs
News: Benjamin caught one pass for 29 yards and a touchdown in Friday's preseason opener against the Bills.
Impact: Though Cam Newton (ankle) didn't play, Benjamin still managed to impress in his first taste of the NFL. The rookie was targeted on the Panthers' first pass play of the game, and he later hauled in a 29-yard touchdown, despite tripping while the ball was in the air. Benjamin's hands were frequently criticized in the pre-draft process, but he has often shown the ability to pull off the difficult catches, even if he can improve his consistency. With his competition for targets coming in the form of Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, it may not be long before Benjamin establishes himself as the Panthers' top receiver. It may have already happened.
News: Newton (ankle) won't play against the Bills on Friday.
Impact: Newton will rest for the preseason opener, as expected. The young signal-caller is still recovering from offseason surgery on his ankle, and his main goal remains being ready for the regular season opener. The Panthers will likely give Derek Anderson, Matt Blanchard and Joe Webb the reps under center in Newton's absence.
News: Gano (back) will miss the preseason opener against the Bills, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.
Impact: Gano, who signed a four-year contract with the Panthers in the offseason, will rest his ailing back Friday in a meaningless preseason game for the kicker. The punter, Jordan Gay, will apparently serve as the kicker in his place.
News: Newton (ankle) is not expected to play in Friday's preseason opener against the Bills, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports.
Impact: Newton would have likely only played a series or two anyway, so rather than risk aggravating what is now a minor ankle injury, the Panthers seem content to let him sit this one out. As of now, the team still expects him to suit up and start Week 1. In Newton's stead, look for all three of the other Panthers quarterbacks (Derek Anderson, Matt Blanchard and Joe Webb) to see extended run.
News: Johnson (hamstring) will not play in Friday's preseason opener against the Bills, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: Johnson hasn't practiced since tweaking his hamstring last Saturday, so playing in Friday's exhibition contest is out of the question. However, given his time off, the veteran defensive end is expected to resume practicing fairly shortly. With Johnson out Friday, Frank Alexander (suspension) will start at left defensive end for the Panthers.
News: Newton's (ankle) status for Friday's preseason opener against the Bills is unclear, though if he does suit up, coach Ron Rivera indicated that the QB would do little more than hand the ball off, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Impact: After participating in some individual drills Thursday and also working with QB coach Ken Dorsey off to the side, Newton rode a cart to the training room in order to undergo scheduled treatment on his ankle with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. "R.V. was going to take him up, work on that ankle and see where that ankle exactly is," Rivera noted. "It's a chance for R.V. to get his hands on (Newton) and really see where Cam is in terms of his progress." Thus far, the quarterback has been limited in training camp, but with no reported setbacks, the goal remains to have Newton at (or around) 100 percent in advance of Week 1.
News: Gano is dealing with a sore back in advance of Friday's preseason opener.
Impact: The report notes that if the ailment sidelines Gano for Friday's game against the Bills, then punter Jordan Gay would kick in his place.
Greg Hardy - #76 - Defensive End - 6'4" - 275lbs
Mon. Aug 4, 2014 | STATS
News: Hardy entered a not guilty plea at an arraignment hearing and his jury trial has been set for Nov. 17, according to his attorney Chris Fialko. The Pro Bowl defensive end is appealing a July 15 conviction on misdemeanor charges of assaulting a female and communicating threats.
Impact: The trial date is scheduled during Carolina's bye week. Carolina hosts Atlanta on Nov. 16. However, Fialko issued a statement Monday saying he believes the trial will be pushed back.
Kelvin Benjamin - #13 - Wide Receiver - 6'5" - 240lbs
Sat. Aug 2, 2014 | STATS
News: Benjamin returned to practice after missing five days with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Impact: Benjamin, the team's first-round draft pick, eased back into practice Saturday. He wore a compression sleeve on his left leg but didn't appear to have any trouble moving and running routes. Benjamin, 23, had been working with the first team alongside Jerricho Cotchery when he banged his knee against the ground in a practice last Sunday. The knee swelled up the team sent him to have a precautionary MRI on Monday, but the tests revealed no structural damage.